Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Irish MTB Marathon National Championships

It was 12 months since I was in Ballyhoura where I successfully defended my MTB Marathon National Title – this year it was a slightly different (better) course that covered much of the trail center style trails as well as a few new additions.

The course had several fireroad climbs as well as some technical climbs and trail center style climbs but the major feature was the kilometers of flowing fast singletrack. The trail center has been completed for several years now but recent changes have made some of the trails a lot nicer to ride – more flow and some jumps. The other really nice thing about the race was that it was 100% off road – at no point did we touch tarmac or a public road. We used fireroads (and some single-track) for the climbing and all the descents were technical and fast.

The race started with a 3.5 kilometer fireroad climb before entering the first of many singletrack sections. We started pretty fast with some less experienced riders sprinting off like the race was a kilometer long – about two minutes later their legs blew, Niall Davis (recently crowned single-speed World Champion – ran in the same venue), Ray O'Shaughnessy and I created the lead group. We rode together for most of the first half of the race with each of us leading our group at various times. About 20 kilometers in I unfortunately punctured my rear wheel – I rode carefully until I got to the fireroad and fixed it before starting the chase. About midway through the race I caught and passed Ray while I caught Niall a little later.

Picture from here
When we hit the penultimate long climb, I increased my pace and Niall dropped off. The rest of the day was plain sailing as I rode pretty hard on the climbs and took my time to enjoy the singletrack descents which with the pouring rain where turning extremely slippy. After just over 3 hours I finished the 65 kilometer race and retained my National title by 16 minutes over 2nd place. 21Kmph for a 100% off-road race in the rain, I was happy with that.

A few people I would like to thank – firstly Cycleways/Specialized (and the mechanics!) and Shane Connaughton for sorting me (and Mel) out with the best MTB bike out there – the Specialized S-Works Epic – I have been riding those bikes a for a few years now and every time I get back onto it I feel like I'm cheating versus everyone else (seriously, go out and try one)! Having spent so little time on the mountain bike this year, it really did allow me to get away with minor mistakes on the technical terrain. ZipVit for covering all Mel and my nutritional needs during the season both on and off-road and my buddy Alan for driving down and back and supporting me during the day – many thanks!

National Champion
The venue is perfect for MTB racing, especially marathon racing and the club that ran the event (their first event), ran it to a world class standard (as good as anything I have raced on the continent). Ireland will host the 2014 MTB Marathon European Championships in the area and this was a great dry (errr, wet) run for the event. Thanks guys.

Results are up here. I'll add in other reports when they go up.


Anonymous said...

Well done Ryan have a look at this report for a view from further down the field

Ryan Sherlock said...

Yeah, I saw that - great report. I took those board walk sections very very carefully!

Ballyhoura Country said...

This is a great review of the Mountain Biking. We are all delighted to hear that you have a get experience.